Over Defense Objection Judicial Panel Grants Request for Pretrial Coordination Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 and Transfers Class Action Lawsuits to Central District of California Despite Settlement of Action Pending in that District
Three class action lawsuits were filed naming Banc of America Investment Services, Quick & Reilly, Fleet National Bank and/or Fleet Investment Services for alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or state labor laws alleging the failure to pay overtime to individuals who worked as securities brokers or broker trainees. In re Banc of America Investment Services, Inc., Overtime Pay Litig., 466 F.Supp.2d 1353, 1353-54 (Jud. Pan.Mult.Lit. December 19, 2006). The plaintiffs in the Northern District of California and the Eastern District of New York class action moved the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 to centralize the lawsuits for pretrial purposes in the Southern District of New York. Id. Defense attorneys opposed centralization or, alternatively, requested transfer to the Central District of California; plaintiffs in the Central District of California also opposed centralization but, like the defense, requested transfer to the Central District of California if the motion is granted. Id. The Judicial Panel rejected opposition arguments that centralization was unwarranted because one of the actions (interestingly, the one pending in the Central District of California) was settled or nearly settled, and selected the Central District of California as the appropriate transferee court. Id.
The Panel explained that “Regardless of whether [other] actions have settled, there remains two federal actions and a potential tag-along action pending in three federal districts.” In re Banc of America, at 1354. The “salutary” goals of pretrial coordination are still served, even if only two federal actions remain. The Panel also selected the Central District of California, even though the class action there pending may settle, because it “is where the first-filed action (in which plaintiffs claim to have reached a nationwide settlement) is pending” and because all defendants and the plaintiffs in that district support transfer to that location. Id.